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The Christian and Islam

By Kyle Pope

Only a few decades ago for Christians in America the Islamic faith was something distant and unrelated to anything that we might encounter in our daily lives.  The rise in immigration,  conversion and the tide of world events has changed the situation.  Now it may be that our next-door neighbor, the clerk at the corner store, or our children’s classmates are devout Muslims.  Christians must be ready to teach all men and be prepared to face the challenges of this growing religious movement.

SUMMARY OF ISLAM

            The name Islam means “submission.”  One who practices Islam is a “Muslim” (meaning “one who submits to God.”)   Islam began in 610 AD. when an Arabic tribesman named Muhammed claimed to receive divine instruction to teach Islam.  Recitations which Muhammed claimed to have been given by the angel Gabriel, were written, circulated and in 632 AD. compiled into the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. 

            While Islam is divided into factions over different beliefs about leadership, some core doctrines are common to all Muslims.  These are summed up in six points.  1.  There is one God - Allah.  2.  Allah has revealed Himself to prophets in the past (Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc.).   3.  Muhammad was the final prophet of Allah.  4.  Islam is the faith practiced by Abraham and the faithful of the past.  5.  The Qur’an is the full and final revelation of God.  6.  At the resurrection Muslims will receive eternal paradise and unbelievers the punishment of eternal fire.

            Islamic practice revolves around five activities: 

1.  Profession of faith.  To be a Muslim one must recite - “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.” 

2.  Prayer.  The faithful Muslim prays five times daily facing the city of Mecca. 

3.  Almsgiving.  Muslims must give a religious tax and freewill offerings. 

4.  Fasting.  During daylight of the Islamic month of Ramadan Muslims are to fast and abstain from sex. 

5.  Pilgrimage.  Muslims must try to make a sacred pilgrimage to Mecca (one of the first cities where Muhammed taught Islam).

ISLAM & CHRISTIANITY

            While Christians reject the Islamic claim that Jesus was only a prophet, there are a number of logical inconsistencies in the Islamic faith which must also be considered.  These concern two questions:  1. Is the Bible reliable?  and 2.  Who is Jesus?

What Does the Qur’an Say about the Bible? 

            While the Qur’an is presented as the final revelation of God, the Qur’an itself makes some clear statements about the origin, inspiration and accuracy of the Bible.  This fact presents Islam with some difficulties.  For example the Qur’an claims God gave scripture to Moses (Sura 2:53); Israel was given God’s message (Sura 2:47); the Law is a guide to truth (Sura 3:93); Moses was followed by the prophets and Jesus (Sura 2:87); the books of Moses, the Prophets and Jesus came from God (Sura 3:84) and that God’s revelation is not lost (Sura 2:106).  In fact, the Qur’an claims to confirm those books which came before.  It states -  “It is He who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this as a guide to mankind…”  (Sura 3:3).

            While the Qur’an claims to confirm the Bible, it is clear that there are many biblical teachings which conflict with Islam.  In II Timothy 3:14-17 we are taught that within the Bible there is all that is needed to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  The Apostle Paul taught that the revelation of Divine doctrine was complete in the first century.   He wrote - “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).  The Bible teaches that salvation is found in Jesus’ name, affirming - “…there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).   How can the Bible be from God and the Qur’an claim to confirm the Bible if it does not accept these doctrines?  

            There are many instances in which the Qur’an actually contradicts the Bible.  For example:

Noah.  The Qur’an claims of Noah, that one of his sons died in the flood (Sura 11:43). The Bible claims that all his family was saved (Genesis 7:7, 23). 

Abraham.  The Qur’an claims that Abraham left his father (Sura 19:45-49).  The Bible tells us that Abraham stayed with his father until his death in Haran (Genesis 11:27-12:4).  The Qur’an claims that Abraham told Isaac he would be sacrificed (Sura 37:102).  The Bible says that Abraham told Isaac God would provide the lamb (Genesis 22:8).

Jacob.  The Qur’an claims that Jacob knew that Joseph was not dead when shown his clothes (Sura 11:18).  The Bible relates that Jacob tore his own clothes and mourned for many days (Genesis 37:34). 

Joseph.  When Joseph was in Egypt, the Qur’an claims that Potiphar asks Joseph to forgive his wife (Sura 12:29).  In the Bible Potiphar has Joseph imprisoned (Genesis 39:20).   

Moses.  The Qur’an claims that Pharaoh’s wife preserves the life of Moses as a baby (Sura 28:9).  In the Bible Pharaoh’s daughter saves the child (Exodus 2:1-10).  The Qur’an claims that God spoke to Moses after ten years in Midian (Sura 28:25-30).  The Bible states that it was forty years (Acts 7:30).   

Zacharias.  Before the birth of John the Baptist, the Qur’an claims that Zacharias was unable to speak for three days (Sura 3:41; 9:10).  In the Bible Zacharias was unable to speak until the birth of John (Luke 1:20, 64). 

Is The Bible Reliable?  How does Islam resolve such differences?  Modern Muslims argue that the modern Bible is flawed.  Dr. Salah El Dareer in a 1974 debate claimed - “…can we find either the Law or the Gospel in today’s Bible?  I say we can find some of the Law; and yes we can find some of the truth in the Bible”  (The Hutto-El Dareer Debate, Faith & Facts Press.  p. 25).  This was not what Muhammed believed.  He claimed - “There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (as they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, ‘That is from God,’ but it is not from God…”  (Sura 3:78).  The claim is that people distort the Book “with their tongues,” not that the Book is distorted.  Muhammad claimed that those who follow the Bible would be saved.   He declared - “Those who believe (in the Qur’an) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians…  any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord…”  (Sura 2:62).  The fact is that of the 4000 manuscripts of the Greek New Testament which exist 126 of them predate Muhammed.  These manuscripts confirm that the text of our Bible today is the same as that of the time of Muhammed.

What Does the Qur’an Say about Jesus?

            There are many areas in which the claims of Islam about Jesus are in near agreement with the claims of the Bible.  The Qur’an states that Jesus was born of a virgin (Sura 19:20,21); was given the Holy Spirit (Sura 5:113); did miracles (Sura 3:49); was righteous (Sura 6:85); was an apostle of God (Sura 61:6); was a prophet (Sura 19:30); was the word of God (Sura 4:171); brought the gospel (Sura 5:49) and was the Christ (i.e. Messiah) (Sura 3:45).  Yet there other times when the Qur’an rejects the Biblical picture of Jesus.  The Qur’an claims that Jesus was not God’s son (Sura 9:30).  The Bible declares that Jesus is God’s son (Matthew 3:17; 16:16).  The Qur’an claims that Jesus was not divine (Sura 5:19).  The Bible reveals that in Jesus God was manifested in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16; John 1:1; 20:28).  The Qur’an claims that Jesus was not crucified (Sura 4:157) while the Bible states clearly that Jesus was crucified (Luke 23:33).  Even ancient historical sources unfavorable to Christianity confirm the crucifixion (see Tacitus, Josephus, Lucian, the Babylonian Talmud).  

Who Was Jesus?  What Islam fails to realize is that it cannot accept certain claims about Jesus without being forced to accept others.  If Jesus was born of a virgin, then He was God with man (Isaiah 7:14 - Immanuel means “God with us,” cf. Matthew 1:23).  If Jesus was the Messiah, then He was the Son of God (Matthew 16:13-17).  If Jesus was the Word of God, then He was God in the flesh (John 1:1-4).  And perhaps most importantly, if Jesus brought the gospel, He brought God’s power to save (Romans 1:16,17).

Conclusion

            To accept Islam one must rely upon the testimony of one man alone.  One must accept a faith built upon the very things that it is forced to deny.  One must accept a faith which denies established history.  To accept the Qur’an one must believe that Jesus was the Messiah but not God’s son and the world’s Savior.    

Pope, Kyle. "The Christian and ISlam" Biblical Insights 2.11 (November 2002): 14-15.  

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